Physiotherapist Melanie Lloyd is part of an innovative Western Health research team turning the spotlight on pneumonia patients.

THEY make up the biggest group of patients in the busiest wards at most hospitals, but never before have pneumonia patients been the subject of such in-depth scientific scrutiny.

The co-morbidities faced by many patients with community acquired pneumonia (CAP) – particularly the elderly – mean that they typically, as a cohort, receive less attention from researchers.

However that is changing at Western Health, where a team of specialist clinicians are conducting a large-scale trial designed to improve the management and outcomes of CAP patients.

The IMPROVing Evidence-based treatment Gaps and outcomes in community Acquired Pneumonia (IMPROVE-GAP) study aims to optimise the care of CAP patients, combining the best evidence-based interventions from the medical, physiotherapy and nutrition specialties.

Physiotherapist Melanie Lloyd is one of eight principal investigators in the study, which is being led by Prof Edward Janus, Western Health’s Director of Research and head of the General Internal Medicine Unit. The other principal investigators are A/Prof Harin Karunajeewa, Dr Elizabeth Skinner, Dr Emily Karahalios, Prof Terry Haines, Melina Shackell and Prof Anne-Maree Kelly.

The year-long trial, which has recruited 800 patients from the General Internal Medical units at Footscray and Sunshine hospitals, is one of the biggest ever conducted at Western Health. The results could have far-reaching implications not only for Western Health, but hospitalised pneumonia patients everywhere.

It is hoped that the multi-disciplinary approach will ultimately help generalist clinicians, who are often bombarded with a plethora of guidelines for multiple illnesses, work as a team to provide consistent evidence-based treatment to an important cohort.

“They are the biggest group of patients, with a very common diagnosis, but the complexity of their medical conditions means they are often excluded from research,” says Ms Lloyd, who worked as a physiotherapist in Queensland and in the UK before joining Western Health.

Each year, CAP causes an estimated 61,000 hospital admissions in Australia, costing more than $300 million. At Western Health alone, there are more than 1000 CAP admissions annually.

The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.

As a staff member, Melanie Lloyd is sharing her story in bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.

By making a donation on Melanie’s behalf – and sharing her story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.

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